Astrolabe rete

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made in Cordoba, Spain

Postcard of Astrolabe rete.
© National Museums Scotland

Astrolabe rete

A rete is the skeletal plate that fits into an astrolabe on top of the selected latitude plate, and is freely rotatable over it. This brass rete is from an astrolabe dating from 1026, the earliest surviving signed and dated astrolabe made in Europe.

Both plate and rete have the north celestial pole in the centre and the edge is bounded by the Tropic of Capricorn. The pointers mark the brightest 'fixed' stars.

The rete is a replacement, probably of the 13th century.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-001-038-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1959.62
Date: 417 AH = 1026/1027 AD
Astrolabe: 1026; Rete: Probably 13th century
Material: Inscription: Work of Muhammad b. as-Saffar in Cordova in the year 17 and 400 (Kufic characters)
Dimensions: 155.00 mm
What: Astrolabe
Subject: 3. ASTRONOMY, Astrolabes (Departmental Classification)
Who: Muhammad b-as-Saffar, Cordova (Maker)
Where: Spain, Cordoba
Description: Brass astrolabe, the earliest surviving signed and dated astrolabe made in Europe, by Muhammad b. as-Saffar, Cordoba, Spain, 417 AH, 1026/7 AD
  • Macdonald, A. & Morrison-Low, A.D., A Heavenly Library: Treasures from the Royal Observatory's Crawford Collection. Edinburgh: Royal Observatory & NMS, 1994, p 24 
  • Turner, A. J., The Time Museum catalogue of the collection, Vol 1: Time Measuring Instruments, Part 1 Astrolabes & Astrolabe Related Instruments. Rockford: 1985, p 115 
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